According to the most recent United Nations data, Pakistan’s current population has reached above two-hundred and twenty-six million as of October 2021. Making Pakistan the fifth most populated country in the world. With a rapidly increasing population, child health issues in Pakistan are also on the rise. The current issues in maternal and child health can be related to many factors that have been discussed in this article.
Types of Child Health Issues in Pakistan
Child health in Pakistan is one of the most challenging national issues that require immediate attention. According to medical reports, one child dies every minute due to diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. They also reveal that approximately 400,000 infants die during their first year of life each year. Child health is mainly affected due to:
- complications due to premature birth
- complications during labor and delivery
- infections such as sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia
If you are experiencing any of the complications mentioned above, it is highly recommended that you seek medical help. You can book an appointment or consult online with the best gynecologists at the Top Hospitals in Pakistan. Complications listed above lead to all the following child health issues in Pakistan:
1. Low-Birth Weight
Research conducted in different hospitals in Peshawar, which studied causes of low-birth-weight found that it is related to several cultural factors. These risk factors include teenage pregnancy, old age pregnancy, poor maternal health, anemia, and pregnancy history.
If the mother experiences any of these issues, the child is likely to have low birth weight. Children with low birth low-birth-weight often develop infections in the first week of their lives and have difficulty surviving increasing infant mortality rates.
2. Infectious Diseases
Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death among children in Pakistan, accounting for 60% of all child deaths under five. The most common are neonatal infections, diarrhea, polio, and pneumonia. Neonatal infections are those that can be acquired from mother to child, in the birth canal, during childbirth, or after birth.
In most cases of neonatal infections, newborns don’t receive proper treatment and die within the first month.
The Health Ministry of Pakistan has been working to overcome these problems and has even achieved significant success in Polio eradication. But, there is still a need for new vaccines against diarrhea (rotavirus vaccine), pneumonia, and measles eradication in children.
Pakistan is on the list of developing countries with the highest rates of stunting, wasting, and underweight children. In Pakistan, the factors causing malnutrition are mainly a poor diet that lacks essential vitamins and minerals needed for growth and development. The absence of diversity in diet, unavailability of certain foods, and high food prices are some reasons parents can not provide a healthy diet to children in Pakistan. The symptoms of malnutrition include stunted growth, fatigue, underweight, fat, and muscle loss. Poor maternal health can also cause malnutrition to develop in your child.
4. Micronutrient Deficiencies
Children who are unable to receive a healthy diet can develop several micronutrient deficiencies, which have adverse effects on health and may also slow down the growth of the body. Anemia is highly prevalent in children, and the reason is primarily maternal anemia. Other than iron deficiency, children in Pakistan also have zinc, Vitamin A, and D deficiencies. These nutrient deficiencies may cause diseases like rickets and delayed growth.
Current Issues in Maternal and Child Health in Pakistan
“For every 1000 babies that are born, 42 die as newborns and 62 as infants “. -UNICEF
Did you know Pakistan has a 75% newborn deaths rate related to poor maternal and newborn care services? And the most despairing part is that the diseases and conditions causing these deaths are easily preventable and treatable. But sadly, in Pakistan, even basic necessities are out of reach for the mothers and babies who need them the most.
Some of the current issues in maternal and child health in Pakistan are:
Unavailability of Basic Needs
Along with a lack of affordable healthcare facilities, Pakistan has limited availability of nutritious food and safe drinking water. When pregnant women don’t get a nutrient-rich diet, including essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid and iron, it can affect the child’s health, causing severe issues like improper brain development and low birth weight.
There are many hospitals in our country that provide high-quality medical facilities for pregnant females and newborn children. But, unfortunately, the majority of Pakistani females do not have the financial strength to seek professional help for their health issues which eventually leads to problems in childbirth.
Lack of Awareness
Despite the fact that education for females is not prohibited in Pakistan, women are generally less educated than men. Moreover, even educated women do not have enough awareness regarding family planning, prenatal care, healthy eating, and conception use which causes various health conditions.
According to a survey, Pakistan has a high fertility rate, high maternal and child mortality rates, and a low rate of contraceptive use. The health ministry of Pakistan has started many awareness campaigns that address these issues, but little progress has been observed.
High Exposure to Diseases
Maternal and child deaths result from limited access to immunization and poor maternal and newborn care services. Premature birth complications, complications during labor and delivery, and infections such as sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia are common due to this reason. Many childbirths are conducted in an unequipped setting by untrained midwives or nurses, ultimately resulting in higher chances of infections and diseases in children.
Psychological Stress during Pregnancy
Honor killings, domestic violence, rape, child marriages, harassment, and gender discrimination are a few of the most common problems faced by women in Pakistan on a daily basis. Due to the rise in these crimes, Pakistan has been ranked in the list of most dangerous countries for women in 2021. It is obvious that pregnant women dealing with any of these issues will not have healthy mental health.
A study shows that prenatal maternal stress can cause various complications that can have long-term consequences for the newborn. High levels of stress in pregnancy have been linked to increased chances of problems in childbirth as well. The worst part is that psychological health is not given importance in most households of our country, and the consequences are also blamed on the women in the end.
Improving Child and Maternal Health Issues in Pakistan
Pakistan needs better mother and child healthcare plans, which can be easily implemented in our country. The following improvements can be made to deal with child health issues:
Upgrading the Healthcare System
Pakistan has some of the poorest maternal, newborn, and child health care statistics in South Asia. A comprehensive approach is required to improve maternal and newborn health, primarily by improving and upgrading facilities at district hospitals.
Protection against Diseases
Acute respiratory tract infection, viral hepatitis, malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, scabies, goiter, hepatitis, and tuberculosis are Pakistan’s most common and lethal. The most vulnerable victims of acute respiratory tract infection are children whose immune systems have been weakened by malnutrition. Therefore, we need to improve the quality and quantity of diet for our children. And, it is also essential to provide necessary protection from these diseases with the help of immunization.
Pediatric Services in all Provinces
There are still many places in Pakistan where basic pediatric services are unavailable, including rural areas. Children do not get the proper medical treatment according to their condition. So, to save children’s lives, pediatric institutes should be established in all districts of Pakistan, with emergency services and trained child-disease experts available at all times.
We need practical mother and child health care policies in Pakistan that address the issues of family planning,
primary health care (PHC), and maternal/neonatal and child health. Diseases like anemia that are transferred via mother to the newborn can be prevented by taking precautions. Special awareness and healthcare facilities must be built for pregnant women that provide free professional advice regarding the different problems of pregnancy and how to deal with them.
The primary cause of rising child mortality in Pakistan is the lack of child healthcare facilities in rural areas, where the majority of the population lives. The significant causes of childhood diseases are easily preventable and treatable. However, a significant health budget is needed to solve these issues. The government has started many healthcare programs, but it is also upon us to help spread awareness regarding these issues.
How to improve health issues in Pakistan?
The health issues in Pakistan can be improved by providing better healthcare facilities to people, spreading awareness regarding health issues, focusing on the importance of a healthy diet, and being physically active. We must also take preventable measures to protect ourselves from diseases by getting vaccinated.
What are some major health issues in Pakistan?
The major health issues in Pakistan are dengue, pneumonia, TB, Heart disease, Diabetes, and Hepatitis.
What are the major causes of childhood mortality in Pakistan?
Some of the causes of childhood mortality in Pakistan include inadequate healthcare facilities and staff, poor quality and quantity of diet, and infectious diseases.
Book an appointment now, to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with the Best Child Specialists in Karachi through Marham by calling at Marham helpline: 0311-1222398 or by online booking facility through the website or Marham mobile app.
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